SOTA Activation Report: W4G/HC-006 - Flat Top Mountain

Trip of 2013.01.20

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: No

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide - W4G/HC-006 - SummitName


This was a ‘Plan-B’ summit. I had planned to first-activate Cowpen Mountain (W4G/HC-001), but found FS 64 gated at South Fork Jacks River.

FS 64 (and the last bit of GA-2) were good-quality dirt road, averaging about 20 MPH in my Toyota Corolla. I encountered no gates (closed or open) on GA-2 or FS 64 en route to Dyer Cemetery.

The 5 MPH dirt road from Dyer Cemetery on FS 64 up to very-near-the-summit of Flat Top was muddy and icy. I elected to drive part way up and park at a wide spot (actually, a less-narrow spot), due to ice and mud. After a dry spell, I see no reason my Corolla couldn’t drive to the top. Single lane, with long stretches between spots wide enough to pass a car. Plan to back up 1/4 mile or so if you encounter another vehicle. According to Forrest Service documents this road is closed for the winter, but its gate was open on January 20, 2013. There is a turn-around at the top.

The hike from the turn-around to the summit is easy to follow, and not strenuous. Hiking up the 5 MPH dirt road would be long but not unpleasant, if there is little auto traffic.

I set out early this morning to activate W4G/HC-001, Cowpen Mountain. As the sun rose, the sky was clear, the air was crisp but not unbearably cold, and the dirt road to the summit was in good shape with no traces of the snowfall earlier this week. A promising day!

Then I encountered the gate. Apparently, the Forest Service closes FS 64 between N34.84182 W84.59421 and N34.86438 W84.52028 from early January until March. Bummer. But wait! I had planned for such an occasion. My next thought was, “I’ll go to my plan-B summit, a bushwhack to Dyer Mountain (W4G/HC-009). Oh, wait, I haven’t driven to its access point yet. The gate blocks both summits. &@#$!!”

I drove back to the top of a hill, picked up cell coverage, and found Flat Top Mountain. It was close by. It wouldn’t be a first-activation, but it would allow me to salvage some points for the drive.

If you’re familiar with the area geography, you might have noticed something amiss at this point. After I got home, I realized that I had driven right past Dyer Mountain before I encountered the gate. Somehow, I got the coordinates of Dyer Mountain and the Cowpen Mountain trailhead reversed in my driving directions, so I only thought the gate blocked access to Dyer. Sigh. Could have had another first-activation and a bushwhack, had I not been so brain-addled.

I drove most of the way up the road to Flat Top. There were a few soft spots, but much of the road was frozen mud. I got about 3/4 of the way up before the road got too slippery. I didn’t want to get stuck. I managed to turn my car around in the single lane, without rolling it down the slope.

I hiked the rest of the way up. It is a nice summit. Good trees for antenna hanging, enough space to guy out a mast. In dry weather, the drive shouldn’t be too bad and there’s a turn-around at the top.

It was my 10th summit, and my first that was not a first-activation. In the meantime, the road had melted, so it was mud-city on the way down. It is a narrow, single lane road. I had just passed a rare turn-out and thought, “Gee. I’d hate to meet someone. You might have to back for half a mile,” when I saw a flash of sunlight. I backed up the few feet, and waited while an SUV came up the hill. Good timing.

Thank you chasers!

  • AC0A
  • KD6CUB
  • W0MNA
  • KE5AKL
  • NS7P
  • N7UN
  • KC3RT
  • KI8R
  • N4EX
  • W4MPS
  • W4CCH
  • K4PIC
  • KG3W
  • WA2USA